Complex, coded, and creepy—these are the three words I’d ascribe to this book. Also, completely original in concept but not completely smooth in execuComplex, coded, and creepy—these are the three words I’d ascribe to this book. Also, completely original in concept but not completely smooth in execution.
Through journal entries, transcripts of audio and video recordings, excerpts from emails, letters, newspaper clippings, and research tomes, the story unfolds: how A., a 20-something Briton, inherits a magnificent house and correspondingly huge fortune from Ambrose, a previously-unknown distant American relative; how A. and his teenaged friend Niamh (a mute Irish female who more than vaguely reminds me of a slightly more well-adjusted Lisbeth Salander) come to America and claim the house and fortune; how they almost immediately realize that there are supernatural enhancements to their property. But a ghost is the least of their issues—soon A. is having vivid and often terrible dreams and quite possibly being driven to insanity, and both he and Niamh are discovering secret rooms and cryptic coded messages from dearly departed Ambrose. It’s becoming apparent that Ambrose was part of an esoteric, secret society, the members of which converge on Axton House every year—and are about to do so again.
This is the kind of book that one might need to read more than once or twice to really get the whole story and appreciate its sophistication; however, the sometimes-vague inferences, as well as the tedious scenes of code-breaking, likely will bore or frustrate a great many of us who are in possession of much intelligence but little patience for codes, ciphers, and puzzles. ...more
“It’s a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.” I’m not sure about the first part, but the second part certainly seems applicable when you view the Ir“It’s a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.” I’m not sure about the first part, but the second part certainly seems applicable when you view the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts through the lens of this book…the only difference being, “it’s a poor woman’s fight.”
Focusing on three women from the Indiana National Guard, this book explores their experiences of these conflicts, and how they re-acclimated to civilian wars. Of the three soldiers, two of them, Michelle and Desma, come from clearly straitened financial backgrounds and broken homes, although only Michelle joined explicitly for the financial incentives. (Desma joined on a dare.) The third woman, Debbie, is older (about to be a grandmother, actually) and has had time to make her way in the world, but she’s certainly not a wealthy person. In fact, it seems like most of the soldiers encountered within this book had joined for financial reasons, which leaves one wondering if the composition of the entire army relies on the existence of an economically disadvantaged class.
Yet this is not a book about class. If anything, this is a book about gender, and equality, and the inherent similarities of us all when we are placed in extraordinary circumstances. Michelle, Desma, and Debbie, all of whom joined the Guard before September 11, of course found their expectations dramatically altered after the terrorist attacks—drilling one weekend a month and for a few weeks each summer was no longer their chief obligation to the US; their training increased and they were eventually deployed to Afghanistan in 2004, as part of a mixed-gender regiment, and then later, Desma and Debbie to Iraq. There were certainly fewer females than males in their regiments, but each of the three women held their own—at the end of the day, while they experienced attentions both wanted and unwanted, while they experienced discrimination, harassment, support, and encouragement from their male colleagues and superiors, they essentially felt the same boredom, fear, frustration, loneliness, stress, and PTSD as their male counterparts.
Whether you are pro-war or anti-war, this is a book that will make you think and keep you riveted from beginning to end. ...more